North Shields hold Steelmen to stalemate
North Shields made it five games without conceding a goal on Saturday when their game against Consett ended goalless at the Daren Persson Stadium.
A much-changed Robins side had Sean McCafferty to thank in a well-contested game as the goalkeeper made three fantastic staves to keep the Steelmen at bay.
The former Bedlington Terriers stopper replaced Chris Bannon in the squad, the latter having sustained a broken nose in the 3-0 win at South Shields in midweek.
Meanwhile Curtis Coppen, Jack Donnison, Marc Lancaster and Dean Holmes were all rested ahead of the NFA Senior Cup semi-final tie against Morpeth Town on Wednesday evening.
Like Shields, Consett’s league position belies the quality within their squad, and within four minutes the County Durham outfit offered a stark reminder of their attacking threat with a rasping strike from Calvin Smith palmed behind by McCafferty, before an in-swinging corner from full back Jordan Lavery clipped the crossbar on its way over.
The game was a scrappy affair thereafter, with neither side afforded the time and space to play their expansive football.
Then an easily saved effort from Consett’s Danny Craggs seemed to spark Shields into life. First, Gareth Bainbridge came within inches of meeting Ryan Carr’s low cross at the back post, before the number nine went even closer three minutes later. Michael McKeown’s charge down from an attempted clearance spun favourably into the path of Bainbridge, who wrapped his right boot around the fast-moving ball, but the forward was unfortunate to see his attempt curl into the side-netting, taking a slight nick off the post in the process.
Consett counterpart Daniel Hawkins failed to take advantage of a misplaced pass from John Parker on the half hour mark, shooting high and wide from 20 yards.
The Robins started the second half brightly, former Spennymoor Town keeper Peter Jeffries beating Bainbridge to a Dan Wilson flick and Peter Glen-Ravenhill scooping well over.
However, it was fellow keeper McCafferty who was called into meaningful action on the hour. Hawkins laid the ball off to Josh Gray on the edge of the area and the winger’s volley destined for the bottom corner before the keeper’s impressive save low down.
The goalkeeper denied Consett once again two minutes later. A smart one-two between Michael Sweet and substitute Jake Stafford saw the latter in on goal, but a strong hand prevented a drilled effort across goal from finding the bottom corner.
Gray threatened again for the visitors, shooting wide from range, while McKeown lifted off target, but it took until the 75th minute until Jeffries was truly tested, expertly pushing away a powerful strike from sub Ryan McGorrigan.
At the other end, McCafferty had to be alert to keep out another corner from Lavery, but after both sides spurned further half-chances in the closing minutes, the Consett defender received his marching orders for pulling back McGorrigan when the forward was in on goal.
It was the last meaningful action in a game which promised much but delivered little, with a draw ultimately a fair result for both sides on the day.
North Shields will hope to shut out FA Vase finalists Morpeth Town in similar fashion on Wednesday night when the two sides clash on Tyneside.
A place in the NFA Senior Cup final at St James’ Park is up for grabs, with the victors set to face Blyth Spartans.
Highlights from the Consett game are available at NSFCTV www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfXQ80v3NSoNorth Shields: McCafferty, Donnison, Summerly, McKeown, Parker, Hughes, Glen-Ravenhill, Richardson, Bainbridge (McGorrigan), Wilson (Lancaster), Carr (Mason).